Monday, July 6, 2015

Universe Doesn't End

Well, fan voting put four Kansas City Royals on the American League All-Star roster, American League players voted in another and Royals manager Ned Yost, commanding the AL squad because he was the 2014 AL Champion manager, added a sixth. More gimmicky voting could make Mike Moustakis a seventh Royal All-Star.

There was consternation in recent weeks as sometimes seven and sometimes eight Royals led the fan voting at their positions, despite some of them showing very little All-Star caliber of play. Yost, when asked about this problem, suggested that those who disliked the vote totals should probably do some voting of their own, as that would have more of an impact on the outcome. Major League Baseball allowed not one, not two, not three or even four votes per e-mail address, but thirty-five. A setting on the voting page allowed visitors to set their ballot for an entire team, rather than having to run down the list every time. Your humble correspondent and Missouri baseball fan sent thirty-five votes into the league office for the entire Royals roster for the American League and the Cardinals roster for the National League. And he was not a bit sorry.

At different times in baseball's history, All-Stars have been chosen by managers or by fan votes. The current use of fan voting started in 1970 as a way of reviving interest in the game, which had been considered to be waning. New gimmicks have been dreamed up in the ensuing years, all to help increase fan interest, and there's nothing wrong with that since the All-Star Game is more spectacle than sport anyway.

On the other hand, in 2003 the league colluded with the player's union to award World Series home-field advantage to the winning team. Should the American League team win, they have four games at home in the seven-game series, and vice-versa should the National League team win. I couldn't find anything that directly attributed this stupid idea to then-Commissioner Bud Selig, but since it began the year after he ignominiously allowed the 2002 All-Star Game to end in a tie and since it is a stupid idea, he is a likely culprit.

Giving World Series home field to the All-Star winner makes some miniscule sense if the teams are really showcases of each league's best players competing against each other. But since they're not, and since the main thrust of the game is the event itself much more than the final score, then that miniscule bit gets minisculer and minisculer until it simply disappears.

As I said, I was not a bit sorry that I cast thirty-five votes for some guys who were not really the top at their position in their respective leagues. For one, I used to live in Chicago. Multiple voting is considered a civic duty there as much as unrepeated voting is elsewhere. For another, a silly system deserves being dealt with as such. If Major League Baseball is going to let any yahoo with a keyboard and a mouse cast thirty-five votes in its All-Star contest, then it gets exactly what's coming: A system in which a guy hitting .231 can lead the All-Star balloting for most of the summer until falling back at the last minute. And Bud Selig.

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